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Cowon D2 DMB 4GB MP3/Media Player - Cowon D2
In other areas, the D2 isn't so accomplished, but it is still superb. Of course the big bonus is that you can play lossless file formats back - including the excellent FLAC, so it's always going to beat a player that can't do this. But when lined up against the outstanding Trekstor Vibez, my current benchmark for sound quality, it can't quite match its refinement.
Playing a few tracks from Stacey Kent's The Lyric exposes a sound that's ever-so-slightly over-warm. Where the Trekstor Vibez releases the soft snare drums and piano with a lightness that's a pleasure to behold, the D2 casts a slightly warm glow over it all. The same goes for the quiet tracks on Lisa Ekdahl's Back to Earth album. Detail is superb, but not quite on the same level as the Vibez.
Feed something a bit more lively through the D2 and that extra power comes into its own, though. Green Day's Letterbomb steams along with great energy, with the guitars really driving on and the drums really thumping out. Playing Jamiroquai's Black Capricorn day reveals a slightly lean bottom end, but it's powerful and clean enough not to dampen the enjoyment and a quick fiddle with the many equalizer settings and bass boost options will remedy this for bass fiends.
Even the supplied earbuds are halfway decent with a surprisingly clear and punchy sound. Though if you're spending this much (£169.99) on your music player, you surely have a spare twenty quid or so to get yourself a better pair.
Whatever way you look at it, the D2 DMB is an extremely capable MP3 player. The touch-screen is good, the video playback stunning and the battery life brilliant. It has expandable memory, and the sheer range of settings and capabilities is second to none. Even without the DAB capability this is the best all round mini PMP I've come across.
The big question is would you pay £170 for it? Well, if the DAB functionality actually worked reliably, maybe it would be worth the stretch if you were desperate for digital radio on the move. Alas it doesn't and that makes the price untenable, even more so when you consider it's dearer than the iRiver Clix 2, and the imminent 80GB iPod Classic (£159) and 8GB video-enabled iPod nano (£129).
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality